Alabama law banning care for trans kids blocked by federal judge

A transgender woman in a hospital gown being treated by a doctor, a transgender man. Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons. No derivatives, no commercial use. See guidelines here:

A federal judge in Alabama has blocked a new law that criminalizes parents for getting healthcare for their transgender children.

The Associated Press reported that U.S. District Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from enforcing the medication ban, which took effect May 8, while a lawsuit goes forward. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) referred to the ruling as a “temporary legal roadblock” and the state’s attorney general indicated he will appeal.

The law was signed into law by Ivey in early April, according to NBC News. The network reported that while Alabama was the third state to restrict care for trans children, it was the first to impose criminal penalties. It makes it a felony for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming medical care people under 19.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) said the law, SB184, provides up to 10 years in prison as penalty for anyone, including doctors and parents, who assists in getting trans children essential care.

NBC quoted Ivey as saying “if the Good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl.”

“We should especially protect our children from these radical, life-altering drugs and surgeries when they are at such a vulnerable stage in life,” she said in a statement.

Surgery is only recommended for adults if needed. Not all transgender people need surgery for dysphoria. The only gender-affirming care recommended for both adults and children is social affirmation, where a person dresses as their gender identity and use pronouns. Medical care, the use of puberty blockers, doesn’t happen until puberty and is reversible. All the care is done with consent of the trans people and under the care of medical professionals.

Most professional medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, support transition-related healthcare for children.

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than half (52%) of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 1 in 5 attempted suicide. Additionally, only 1 in 3 trans youth found their home to be gender-affirming. However, research also consistently shows that transgender and nonbinary youth who have accepting parents and/or access to gender-affirming care report lower rates of attempting suicide.

“This ruling lessens the enormous stress families across Alabama have been under since SB 184 passed last month. A state should not criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing needed medical treatments,” said NCLR Senior Staff Attorney and Transgender Youth Project Director Asaf Orr.
“We’re grateful the court heard the powerful pleas from the families and providers who would be so harmed by this law. Parents should never be put in the unimaginable position of choosing between denying their transgender children needed healthcare or facing prison,” said Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign legal director. 

“Blocking enforcement of SB 184 supports the well-being of transgender youth in Alabama and the rights of parents who under the law would be prohibited from seeking the best possible care for their children,” said Scott McCoy, Southern Poverty Law Center interim deputy legal director LGBTQ rights and special litigation.